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Household Finances Vulnerable to Disasters

A flood, tornado, earthquake or fire can wipe out a lifetime of savings.

“One way to protect your finances is to get the right insurance,” says [insert name and title] of [insert county name].

Here are ways to make sure you have the right coverage:

  • Review your insurance policies and learn what they do and do not cover.
  • Learn the difference between replacement cost and standard coverage. (Standard coverage only pays the actual cash value of insured property.)
  • Be sure you have enough insurance to cover recent home improvements.
  • Consider getting coverage such as flood insurance. (Most homeowners’ insurance policies do not cover flood damage.)

“You also should inventory your household possessions,” [insert last name] says.

You’ll need written and photographed or videotaped records of major household items and valuables for insurance purposes. Create folders including serial numbers and store receipts for major appliances and electronics. Have jewelry and artwork appraised. This information is important when filing insurance claims.

“Protecting your important documents is another step in protecting your finances,” [insert last name] says.

Store copies of irreplaceable financial and family documents in a safe place protected from fire and water. Those documents include auto titles, tax records, stock and bond certificates, deeds, wills, trust agreements, birth and marriage certificates, photos, passports, insurance policies and your household inventory file. Keep the original documents in a safe deposit box.

Keep enough cash or travelers checks in a safe and quickly accessible place in case you have to evacuate. Automated teller machines may not be working or accessible in a disaster. Also consider opening an emergency savings account or designate a credit card just for emergencies.

You also can take steps to protect your home and possessions. They include:

  • Installing smoke alarms on every floor
  • Reinforcing roofs and foundations in case of tornadoes
  • Removing dry brush around your home to lessen the danger from wildfires

 For more information, visit www.ag.ndsu.edu/flood or www.extension.org/Floods.

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